Media Mix, Jan. 5, 2014

imagesHere’s this week’s Media Mix about the influence of money on issues related to Abe’s Yasukuni visit and the announcement by Okinawa governor Hirokazu Nakaima that he will approve the application to start the proposed air base in Nago. There’s one more money connection that I didn’t mention, which has to do with the so-called bereaved families who urge Japanese politicians to go to Yasukuni and pray for the souls of their loved ones who died in the war. Not all people who lost relatives in the war support the Yasukuni visits, but those who do formed the Japan War-Bereaved Families Association, which is a de facto lobby, and besides advocating for support for Yasukuni the association also has made sure that survivors of soldiers who died during the war receive pensions. “Survivors” means not only the wives and children of dead soldiers, but their siblings if the soldiers were not married. In some cases, it’s not a lot of money—maybe ¥40,000 a year for the purpose of tending the deceased’s grave—but the government continues to pay it out regardless of how old the survivors are, so we can assume that the association will continue to stump for state recognition of their loss until they die. What happens after that? Though a recent Kyodo News Service survey about political attitudes found that younger voters were less likely to view the Liberal Democratic Party as “right-wing,” it seems to be mainly a function of historical ignorance. Does that mean young people are more likely to become right-wing in the future? Of those who said that Japan’s stance during the war was “not aggressive,” the largest age group was 20-30 year olds, but this age group was also the smallest of those who thought that patriotism should be taught in public schools. More significantly, only 13 percent of 20-30 year olds said they would be willing to fight in a war for Japan. So while they may have conservative tendencies, young people don’t necessarily translate those feelings into justifications for a stronger military.

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